AHCA Secretary Defends ICU Capability, Reporting Changes

Jun 24, 2020
AHCA secretary Mary Mayhew
News Service of Florida

Florida has more intensive-care unit capability than a state website indicates, a top health-care regulator said Tuesday, as the DeSantis administration defended a decision to change how hospitals report available ICU beds to the state.

Initially, Jacksonville city officials thought they received $159 million in Federal CARES Act funding. 

Leon County residents will have to wear masks or face coverings when they’re inside public spaces like restaurants and stores. That’s under a new ordinance passed by the county commission Tuesday.

The day of her 38th birthday in April, Jane Castro decided it was time to finally find out if she’d contracted COVID-19 during a January trip to Arizona State University.

Florida business regulators shut down a web portal launched to make it easier for the public to file complaints about businesses that violate COVID-19 guidelines last month, just as cases statewide started to surge.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation created the online form in mid March, but removed it May 29.

Alachua Commissioners Address COVID-19 Spike, Amend Mask Policy

Jun 24, 2020
Covid Protective Face Masks
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Alachua County Commissioners discussed in a meeting Tuesday afternoon how the county plans to handle the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, a plan which includes enforcing public compliance with warnings and citations for those who refuse to wear masks in public.

According to the Florida Department of Health's Tuesday report, 103,503 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state - an increase of 3,286 positive tests since Monday.

In the Tampa Bay area, the state reported 599 more people tested positive in a 24-hour period. Pasco County reported its highest daily increase in new cases, with 82 since Monday’s report.

With more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 in Florida now, public health experts are saying a second spike in infections is underway.

Donna Petersen is dean of the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida. She says it's impossible to completely eliminate the illness, but wearing face coverings and keeping six feet apart from others really does help slow the spread.

As Gov. Ron DeSantis increasingly points to young adults as the source for a spike in coronavirus cases in Florida, public universities across the state are moving forward with plans to reopen campuses in the fall. 

The Florida university system’s Board of Governors on Tuesday approved individual reopening plans put together by each of the state’s 12 state universities.

With the number of COVID-19 cases climbing in the Tampa Bay area and statewide, two more local governments approved mandatory mask requirements Tuesday.

Approximately 200 COVID-19 vaccines are being actively developed. All vaccines have one main goal: to prepare a person's immune system to fight off an invading organism should the body encounter it.

The country’s top infectious disease specialist flagged Florida as a COVID-19 hot spot while speaking before a House committee on Tuesday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said he’s seeing a “disturbing spike” in infections across some parts of the country — and that the next few weeks in Florida will be critical.

A pandemic is hard on everyone. And even though older people face greater risks from the novel coronavirus, a UNICEF report released on Tuesday points to another particularly vulnerable population: youth. The report is titled Lives Upended: How COVID-19 threatens the futures of 600 million South Asian children.

The Hidden Deaths Of The COVID Pandemic

Jun 23, 2020
 Sara Wittner (left) and her sister Grace Sekera on Sekera’s wedding day. Wittner began using narcotics again after the COVID-19 pandemic dismantled elements of her sobriety support system. On the Thursday after Easter, Sekera discovered her sister’s body
Photo from Leon Wittner

Sara Wittner had seemingly gotten her life back under control. After a December relapse in her battle with drug addiction, the 32-year-old completed a 30-day detox program and started taking a monthly injection to block her cravings for opioids. She was engaged to be married, working for a local health association and counseling others about drug addiction.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho
Miami-Dade Public Schools

Many schools find themselves overwhelmed by the potential expenses that would come with operating under pandemic-induced social distancing guidelines. Those include protective equipment, staff for smaller classes and additional transportation to keep students spread out on bus rides.

The burdens loom large in particular for underfunded districts that often have neither the space nor the budgets to accommodate new health protocols. The superintendent in Hartford, Connecticut, shudders at how to afford a scenario in which each teacher had dramatically fewer students.

Even if someone is infected by the novel coronavirus and remains asymptomatic — free of coughing, fever, fatigue and other common signs of infection, that doesn't mean the coronavirus isn't taking a toll. The virus can still be causing mild — although likely reversible — harm to their lungs.

Florida Suspends Orlando Bar’s License For Violating Coronavirus Guidelines

Jun 23, 2020

A bar near the University of Central Florida has had its state alcoholic beverage license suspended for violating reopening guidelines after 13 employees and at least 28 customers tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

In all, 1,742 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the state Department of Corrections.

The number of inmates in Florida’s prison system who have died from COVID-19 has increased to 20, while more than 1,700 inmates have tested positive for the disease, according to figures released Monday by the state Department of Corrections.

A group of Democratic state senators are among those calling for an apology from Governor Ron DeSantis, after he said farmworkers’ lifestyle is facilitating COVID-19 spread.

Superintendent Kurt Browning
Pasco County School District / YouTube

The Pasco County School District on Monday announced that Superintendent Kurt Browning has contracted COVID-19.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

At a hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and other federal officials said that no one had told them — including President Trump — to slow down testing for the coronavirus. The statements came after Trump has repeatedly said that more testing would lead to more infections being revealed.

According to the Department of Health, the number of people who’ve tested positive for the coronavirus in Florida has passed 100,000.

Face masks will now be required when entering a business in Hillsborough County.

The county's Emergency Policy Group adopted the ordinance on a vote of 5-3 Monday after more than two hours of debate.

More than a third of COVID-19 deaths in the United States so far happened at nursing homes.

Now Congress is demanding answers from five of the companies that run them, including one with 69 facilities in Florida. 

Cars full of people waiting for a coronavirus test at the Patients First on Mahan Drive in Tallahassee stretched more than half-a-mile Monday, wrapping around the corner onto Magnolia Drive. One person waiting for a test reports staying in line for almost nine hours, despite arriving before the test site had officially opened. Some waiting vehicles ran out of fuel. Other drivers left their cars to pick up food from a nearby restaurant or even find spots for semi-hidden bathroom breaks.

State forests will start reopening for recreation next month but don’t expect to pay admission in cash.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning Floridians of scammers trying to impersonate health officials. Moody says the calls are going out from people pretending to be contact tracers to get personal details from victims. She's advising people to verify that contact tracing calls are coming from county health departments.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Duval County, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is still against mandating mask-wearing.

New federal data reinforces the stark racial disparities that have appeared with COVID-19: According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Black Americans enrolled in Medicare were hospitalized with the disease at rates nearly four times higher than their white counterparts.

Back in April, the Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, was a poster child for corporate failure to protect workers from the coronavirus. Dozens of plant employees every day were showing up in clinics with symptoms of COVID-19.